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Monday, July 24, 2017

SK Telecom commercialises quantum random number generator chip for IoT security

By Nick Flaherty

In a big step forward for security applications, SK Telcom in South Korea is commercialising its Quantum random Number Generator (QRNG) technology in a cost effective chip for the Internet of Things and driverless cars.

Random numbers are a vital element in current encryption algorithms, and are often generated in software by a pseudo random number generator (PRNG) or using features in a chip with physically unclonable functions (PUF).

The chip developed by SK Telecom uses micro machined MEMS structures to trap ions that use quantum interactions to produce true random numbers through an entropy source and Deterministic Random Bit Generator (DRBG).

SK Telecom has invested about $2.13 m (2.5 billion KRW) into IDQ (ID Quantique) in Switzeraland which holds major patents for QRNG and has acquired exclusive rights to use IDQ’s patents.

The 5 x 5mm chip will be used to provide more security for IoT systems such as autonomous vehicles, drones and smart devices. Although the price of each QRNG chip has not been set yet, the company said that it will be the lowest price ever for a QRNG.

SK Telecom is also developing a QRNG in the form of USB and PCIe using the chip. This will make it easier to add genuine random numbers to existing system designs.

“Understanding the importance of data and data security, SK Telecom has focused on developing quantum cryptography technologies to guarantee secure transmission of data in areas including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and autonomous driving,” said Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network R&D Centre of SK Telecom. “We will continue to work with partners, both home and abroad, to accelerate the popularization of quantum cryptography and strengthen our presence in the global market.”

The chip has implications for wider markets. “SK Telecom has a competitive edge in the development of the most stable quantum cryptographic technologies as it can actually apply the technology to its commercial network to test and fine-tune its performance,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, CTO and Head of SK Telecom's Corporate R&D Centre. “Quantum cryptographic technologies, once applied, will mark an epoch in the field of communications security, providing unprecedented level of protection for national backbone networks as well as diverse industries including finance and healthcare.”

IDQ, which was established in 2001, was also the first company to commercialise quantum information communication and the two companies have also agreed to co-develop ‘QKD (Quantum Key Distribution’ technology.

See quantum technology development in Bristol and Bath 

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